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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

53% of IT security managers don't know whether the cybersecurity products they use actually work as promised, according to an upcoming survey from the Ponemon Institute and security firm AttackIQ.

Why it matters: It's a little unsettling to find out a captain has no idea if the ship is watertight.

  • Plus, if 53% seems bad, it's probably a whole lot worse. "People are more likely to say they are confident about themselves, so when you see a study showing low confidence, it’s possibly a lot worse," said Larry Ponemon, of the eponymous Institute.
  • The survey included 577 responses from IT managers.

The cybersecurity industry is good at inspiring a lack of faith in the cybersecurity industry.

  • Buzz words bandied about in slogans frequently generate as much skepticism as they do enthusiasm. The notion of snake oil products has been so pervasive that companies now advertise around it.
  • "You sometimes see companies market their products to the threat of the day but not adapt the tool," says Kiersten Todt, managing director of the Cyber Readiness Institute.

To be sure: Many cybersecurity tools are pretty good at what they do. The problem is that the function of security products is a black box — users can't see the gears turning to verify that a tool works or that they are using it properly.

  • "There’s been no methodical approach to check if a product is working as intended," said Chris Kennedy, chief information security officer at study sponsor AttackIQ, which sells products to simulate attacks.

The bottom line: In a better world, security products would inspire more confidence from the people who use them — especially given the cost of cybersecurity.

"Do you have confidence in your door locks?" Kennedy. says. "Put millions of dollars in investment into them, then, yeah, you should have confidence in the product."

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.